Lagos and Nairobi; 9 October 2020: Platform Capital (“Platform”), a leading growth markets investor, is pleased to announce its investment in KOKO Networks (“KOKO”), an international technology company operating in Kenya and India whose pioneering approach enables the large-scale, low-cost distribution of clean household fuel in African cities.
Cooking fuel is a $40 billion market in Africa’s largest cities, but dirty fuels such as deforestation-based charcoal and firewood dominate. Enabling mass-market access to an affordable clean fuel is a major challenge across Sub-Saharan Africa, with the existing modern solutions like LPG and electricity too expensive to enable universal access.
As a result, public health and the environment are severely impacted. In Africa, 600,000 people die every year from the exposure to fumes generated from polluting fuels used for cooking and heating such as kerosene and charcoal, and women and young girls – as primary cooks – bear the greatest burden. Environmentally, charcoal consumption drives 2 million hectares of deforestation annually, and has wiped out a third of Africa’s natural forest cover in 30 years, leading to soil erosion, microclimate change, and worsening food security. As Africa’s forests decline, fast-growing cities sit beneath a haze of cooking smog that causes 1 billion tons of carbon emissions across the continent annually.
KOKO has developed a range of hardware and software innovations that now allow the problem of dirty cooking fuel to be tackled at commercial scale. After years of R&D and a successful pilot, KOKO Fuel was launched in Q4 2019 at scale across Nairobi, delivering sustainable bioethanol cooking fuel in a manner that enables major cost savings and quality-of-life improvements for low-income customers switching from dirty cooking fuels.
The company operates a Network of 700 Clean Fuel ATMs inside neighbourhood shops across Nairobi.
Customers buy fuel in small daily quantities via mobile money at ATMs located a short walk from home. The Fuel ATMs are refilled by IoT-enabled Smart MicroTankers operated by Vivo Energy Kenya (the Shell licensee), with whom KOKO partnered in 2018. The KOKO Cloud software platform enables the efficient and safe flow of fuel, payments, data and appliances, with millions of data-points daily sent from the ATM Network to KOKO’s Network Operations Centre. For a video overview of the technology platform in action, see here.
Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital, joins KOKO’s Advisory Board and as a Board Observer in conjunction with the investment.
Greg Murray, CEO & Co-Founder of KOKO Networks, commented: “KOKO’s mission is to imagine and deliver technology that transforms life in the world’s fastest-growing cities, and KOKO Fuel is now doing exactly that for over 50,000 households in Nairobi. In the years ahead we will be launching Networks in many African countries, and we are pleased to welcome Platform Capital and Dr Akindele to the KOKO team in order to help us navigate new markets in West Africa.”
Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital, said: “We believe that as one of the fastest urbanising continents globally, Africa needs innovative solutions to tackle entrenched infrastructure challenges such as access to fuels for cooking energy. KOKO has developed technology that positions them as a clear leader in the alternative energy space and positions them for expansion across Africa and internationally. We look forward to working with the KOKO team to scale their innovative solutions to positively impact people’s lives.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About KOKO Networks
KOKO Networks is a venture-backed technology company focused on solutions that transform lives in the world’s fastest growing cities. KOKO Fuel is the first consumer solution, delivered through KOKO’s first Network of 700 mini-marts across Nairobi, enabling access to clean safe fuel within a short walk of all customer homes. KOKO employs 700 staff across Kenya and India. For more information, visit www.kokonetworks.com
About Platform Capital
Platform Capital is a growth markets focused, sector agnostic, principal investment and advisory firm. We deploy patient, value accretive capital alongside international and local value investors to create champion businesses with the potential for regional or global scale. Platform also provides end-to-end bespoke Corporate Finance & Capital Markets advisory services. What makes us different is our obsession with changing the African narrative.